Mar y Soul is an Nail Artist to the Stars Whose Extraordinary Crystal Designs Have Gone Global.
Floridian Mar y Soul found her niche in 2004 with extraordinarily creative yet exacting manicures. She’s conquered the American beauty industry with more than 300 covers for high-end fashion magazines to her credit; she’s also on speed-dial for a raft of A-listers and big names in the music and film industry. Here, she tells us how she (ahem) nailed it!
Where are you from?
I grew up in Miami and am based in New York, but I have traveled to Dubai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Japan, Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador, Canada, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Italy, Croatia, and the list goes on for my clients. I’ve even done nails in the Mojave desert!
When and how did you get into nail art?
I have a BA in Fashion Merchandising and I’ve loved creating art since I was young. I was a dancer for thirteen years and a Top Gun All Star cheerleader for five. I learned quickly that the more sparkle in front of the judges the better, and adding Swarovski crystals to our makeup and uniforms were the best for that!
During college, I worked at beauty salon that catered to celebrities and high-end clientele; shortly after I started a jewelry line using Swarovski crystals. After several years of working for the corporate side of the fashion industry, I decided to sign up for beauty school while still styling photoshoots for extra money and promoting my jewelry. One day on set I overheard them saying they needed someone to do the model’s nails, as they wanted a beauty shot showing nail extensions; so I rushed to the drugstore and purchased everything I needed. That’s when I realized I could have a career doing nails behind the scenes!
How did you become the celebrities’ go-to nail artist?
Since my days working at the high-end salon in Miami, I already built a reputation for pairing up top hair stylists, makeup artists, and manicurists with clients. So, when I started doing nails I re-connected with old clients and built my business by word of mouth.
Ashley Graham and Gigi Hadid are my longest clients, but others include Oprah, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Priyanka Chopra, Susan Sarandon, Shay Mitchell and Serena Williams, plus a lot more than we have space to mention.
What inspires you?
Nature, the history of fashion, architecture, makeup, movies, cultural diversity, and of course, the way light hits Swarovski crystals.
Do you have a signature style?
My latest creation—which went global and is still trending—is the chrome nails trend, which Gigi Hadid wore to the 2016 Met Gala. I also have a reputation for adding crystals under the tips of the nail to create a chic 360˚ nail art look. This is being seen more and more on the red carpet—before long it’ll also be a global trend.
How did you decide on the design for Iskra Lawrence’s BeautyCon nails?
Iskra had a choice of four designs. One had Swarovski Aurora Borealis (AB) crystals in stars and pearls to resemble a beach. The blue nail was meant to become a butterfly when you put your thumbs together—because we are the land of the free! The red nail look was inspired by my mom and had a big navette-shaped crystal with tiny crystals around it giving an illusion of a big diamond ring. Iskra chose the shimmery off-white nail look featuring AB crystals, which formed an eye with long eyelashes in the half-moon area of the nail.
How do you like to wear your own nails?
I sometimes have art, but when I know I’ll be working non-stop I go natural. I also like a clear gel with a crystal design.
Got any nail-care tips?
Just as you cleanse and hydrate your face, you should do the same for hands and feet with cuticle oil or Vaseline. Never rip off a broken nail or bite off dry skin—use a nail file. Try hair conditioner and a hand towel to push dead skin off the nail, and give yourself regular sugar scrubs.